18th July 2018
On Monday we announced that Countess of Chester Country Park was one of five Land Trust sites to receive the prestigious Green Flag award, with the Countess achieving the status for the very first time.
The site in Upton in Chester joins Silverdale Country Park in Newcastle under Lyme, Elba Park in Sunderland, Beam Parklands in Dagenham and Greenwich Ecology Park in London on the list of Land Trust sites recognised by Green Flag.
Much of the park is located on a former landfill site, next to the Countess of Chester hospital. This closed in the 1970s when it was made safe, capped with soil and grassed over. Thirty years later the Homes and Communities Agency took ownership of the site, allocated some of the land for a housing development and gave 19 hectares to the Land Trust to develop a country park.
The vision for the park was for it to be restored as a public open space at the heart of the local community, for people to enjoy and where nature can thrive and the Land Trust works in partnership with the Conservation Volunteers (TCV) to manage the park for local communities.
Since then the park has become a key attraction, not only for local residents, but also for patients, staff and visitors to the adjacent Countess of Chester hospital, attracting over 40,000 visitors every year.
A Health for Life project was run on the site with 272 participants taking part in a range of activities which were academically evaluated by the Natural Health Service Centre of Excellence. In virtually all cases participants reported spending more time outdoors and feeling healthier and happier as a result. There was a dramatic reduction in the time participants spent sitting each day, with a corresponding leap in vigorous physical exercise of nearly 60 per cent.
There is also a weekly parkrun on a Saturday morning which has seen thousands of participants enjoy running around the picturesque trails.
There is also a very active community group, Friends of Countess of Chester Country Park, who organise activities and volunteering opportunities and are currently working on a project ‘Fallen for the Fallen’, which will recognise 100 years since the end of the first World War.
Sarah Palgrave-Neath, estates manager for the Land Trust said:
“By joining Land Trust, NHS and The Conservation Volunteers resources, we have provided a great country park for health care staff, patients and the wider community to enjoy.
“We know people feel healthier and happier when they’re outside and we have set high standards in our management of the park and the visitor experience and it is fantastic to see these efforts publicly recognised by the award of Green Flag status.”
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